There are so many of life’s mysteries we’ll likely never get an answer to: Is there a God? Will the pandemic ever end? And is Barack Obama actually writing his own year-end lists? Each December, the former POTUS shares his favorite pieces of pop culture released throughout the year. It’s when he gets to pull a “How do you do, fellow kids?” and try to convince people he definitely knows who Adrianne Lenker is. (He also makes summer playlists.)
Much like lists in previous years, the 2021 list of Obama’s favorite music is a bit of a head-scratcher. Is the former president is not only aware of Parquet Courts’ existence, but has also listened to their new song “Walking At A Downtown Pace?” He left out the band’s (arguably) most accessible and biggest single “Wide Awake!” back in 2018, but who knows, maybe he secretly reads Pitchfork.
He also seems to have missed out on the Puberty 2 and Be The Cowboy craze, because this is the first time Mitski’s been listed on Obama’s music list. He added her recent single “The Only Heartbreaker.”
Other additions to his list are: Lil Nas X, Bad Bunny, Little Simz, and The War On Drugs, Wye Oak, Brandi Carlile, and Courtney Barnett.
Surprisingly, there’s no mention of any songs from Japanese Breakfast’s Grammy-nominated 2021 LP Jubilee, though he lists Michelle Zauner’s debut book Crying In H Mart as one of his favorites of the year. But maybe he’s more of a Soft Sounds guy.
So, do we think Obama writes his own lists? Who knows! Either way, his team must be fielding hundreds of emails from publicists, asking for their indie pop act to be considered. And regardless or not of whether Obama writes his year-end lists on his own—or has his daughters Sasha and Malia help out—at least it’s a pretty solid playlist this year.